Mar 17, 2010, 11:58 AM
The National Youth Council, in partnership with UNAIDS, recently concluded a two-day training for youths on HIV/AIDS, drugs and alcohol abuse among young people.
The training that attracted various participants from different youth groups from across the country was held at the President International Award in Bakau.
Speaking on the occasion, the National Aids Secretariat deputy director, Bai Cham, said the event was quite timely as The Gambia strategically strives towards the attainment of MDG 6 and marching ahead for, ‘Getting to Zero, Zero New HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero Aids related deaths’.
“The attainment of this global call is possible nationally when all the constituents are actively involved in the response, especially the youth,” he said.
Mr Cham noted the importance of letting people continue to be at the centre of the global, regional and national HIV-AIDS response.
“They also are the world greatest hope in the struggle against this fatal disease - UNICEF, UNAIDS, WHO, 2001,” he said.
He stated that those young people who do know something about HIV often do not protect themselves because they lack the skills, the support or the means to adopt safe behaviours.
He stated that strategically, in The Gambia, all what is needed as stakeholders in response is to continue to accelerate in carrying out prevention programmes by educating young people for a behavioural change about HIV and teaching them skills in negotiation, decision-making and communication, to improve their self-confidence and ability to make informed choices, such as postponing sex until they are mature enough to protect themselves from HIV, other STIs and unwanted pregnancies.
The launching of a sectoral HIV and Aids youths-friendly services offering treatment for STIs and access to condoms, help young people become responsible for their sexual and reproductive health.
In his remarks on the occasion, Nuha Ceesay, UNAIDS Country Representative, thanked the National Youth Council for organizing the forum on HIV infection, drugs and alcohol use specially targeted at young people in The Gambia.
“This is an important youth gathering first because it is a demonstration of the commitment of young people to tackle diverse issues that trigger their vulnerability to HIV and the impact of aid response.
Meanwhile, Musa Mbye, deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, who officially opened the workshop, advised the participants to take the training seriously while expressing his ministry’s commitment to the plight of young people.